I plan to thru hike the AT once I retire from the Army. In standard military fashion I have started writing an operations order with execution matrix.
To answer a question that keeps coming up, I'm planning to thru-hike the AT in 2007. I will be eligible for retirement in September 2006, and the following spring is my planned vacation of a lifetime. I was originally going to retire in September 2005 and hike in March 2006, but my assignment to Europe has pushed everything back a year.
The Operations Order (OPORD) is meant to be humorous, not really a serious OPORD, but it does help me to collect my thoughts and get my overall plan together by organizing things such as logistics, time schedules, equipment, etc.
Stuff like the Mail Drop plan, cost estimator, and packing list are real. Pages like the menu planner and monthly hike plan (except for the first 2 1/2 weeks) are guidelines for me to base my hike off. I do not plan to follow a rigid hiking plan past Davenport Gap.
Trail Guides and maps:
I plan to get a full set of maps. Although the AT is one of the easiest trails I have ever navigated, I consider a map as essential as insurance. You may not want to have it because of the initial cost, but if you ever need it the cost will seem very reasonable. I'm also a map freak and love to pull my map out regularly to check the terrain around me.
For Guide books I will carry "The Thru-Hiker's Handbook" by Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce. It is full of essential information and can be used to determine the facilities, phone numbers, addresses, etc. of just about any point of significance on the trail. Because the guide only seems to hit the most vital of points along the trail, I plan to also carry "The Appalachian Trail Databook", but I will divide the sections and include them with the maps that they cover.
OPORD (Operation Order)
16 1935 FEB 02
Bears, snakes, and rodents will operate throughout the sector. Bears present a hazard if proper food precautions are not observed. Snakes do not present a hazard unless they are disturbed. Rodents will present a hazard to Class I operations at all times.
Household 6 will be available for ground transportation at various stages and to provide re-supply operation via postal service.
Trail Angels will operate throughout the area and provide Class I and Class VI at various unexpected sites.
Artillery support: none
Engineers: Trail crews will provide engineer support along the trail with priority of work being mobility and survivability.
Terrain and vegetation:
Terrain is characterized by Peaks (highest point 6,000í+) and low gaps (lowest 123í). Throughout the zone of operation there are many rivers, creeks, and other water hazards that will impede movement. Vegetation will start off as new growth with good observation of NAIs (Named Areas of Interest) along the route, but will later turn into heavy vegetation, which will provide excellent camouflage, but will restrict observation.
Weather during the operation will start with average highs around 75, lows in the 30ís with the possibilities of snow. Rain will be a high possibility at all times, as will fog at certain elevations. Later in the operation, highs will be up to the 90ís, and lows throughout the operation have the possibility of dipping into the 10ís. At all times 1SG Engman should be prepared for clothing layering in order to prevent overheating or hypothermia.
Light data is posted in Appendix A.
1SG Engman conducts Tactical Road March from SP (Start Point) Springer to RP Katahdin along Route Appalachian Trail (AT) NET (No Earlier Than) 10 1200 MAR 07 in order to develop outdoors skills, discover a sense of inner peace, and improve overall fitness.
Concept of the operation. This operation will be completed in four phases:
Phase I: Pre hike reconnaissance. Prior to 10 1200 MAR 07 1SG Engman will conduct reconnaissance hikes along various sections of the AT and on other trails in order to gain information about specific trail sectors, operational requirements, camping/hiking techniques, and refine equipment packing lists. End state is to be better prepared for successive phases of the operation and have a lowered packing list weight.
Phase II: Movement to SP. 09 0600 MAR 07 Transport to AA (Assembly Area) Dahlonega via ground transportation, conduct R&R (Repair and Re-supply) operations, then move to SP Springer in order to conduct Tactical Road March to RP Katahdin. End state is to be at SP NLT (No Later Than) 10 1200 MAR 07 and be prepared to conduct Phase III.
Phase III: Tactical Road March. Conduct Tactical Road March from SP Springer to RP Katahdin averaging a minimum of 14 miles per day in order to make RP (Release Point) NLT 07 1700 AUG 07. End state is to complete AT and move to Phase IV NLT 08 0800 AUG 07.
Phase IV: Re-deploy to home station. Using local civilian contracted transportation, move via ground transport to Millinocket Maine in order to arrange and travel to home station via civilian bus liner. End state is to be at home station NLT 09 1800 AUG 07.
Commanderís intent is to complete the operation while achieving maximum enjoyment. If the operation becomes joyless or painful, then the operation will be terminated.
Scheme of maneuver.
Phase I: This phase will be conducted at regular intervals, goal is to complete at least 2 overnight backpacking trips per year and to use regular unit training exercises to the greatest advantage to AAR and critique all phases of hiking operations.
Phase II: Household 6 will provide ground transportation to AA Dahlonega using POV (Privately Owned Vehicle). This element will SP home station NET 09 0600 MAR 07 and will set in the AA until 1SG Engman departs 10 1200 MAR 07. 1SG Engman will use USF 42 approach trail to reach SP NLT 10 1200 MAR 07.
Phase III: 1SG Engman will move along Route AT loosely using Phase III execution matrix (Appendix A) averaging 14 miles per day until reaching RP Katahdin.
Phase IV: Call local transportation company for ground transport to Millinocket Maine, and then arrange bus transportation to home station.
Tasks to specific elements:
4. SERVICE AND SUPPORT:
General: Re-supply will be done via mail drop and local purchase.
CL I (Food/Water): CL schedule will be done using appendix F as a guide. Majority of Class I re-supply will be accomplished by local purchase.
CL II (Clothing, Individual Equipment, Tentage): CL will be carried. Additional Class II will be sent via mail drop IAW appendix B for seasonal gear needs.
CL III (Fuel): Fuel will be purchased locally, as well as added to mail drops IAW Appendix B.
CL IV (Engineer Materials): N/A
CL V (Ammunition): N/A
CL VI (: Class VI will only be local purchased based on legality and availability.
CL VII (Major Items): CL VII will be only needed for initial transport to trail head, no special CL VII supply issues are foreseen at this time.
CL VIII (Medical): Basic supplies will be carried. For additional needs the insurance card will be carried in case of emergency.
CL IX (Repair Parts): Basic BDAR (Battle Damage Assessment and Repair) kit will be carried. For more comprehensive repairs or replacement, local purchase will be used.
5. COMMAND AND SIGNAL:
SGT R0ck will maintain regular contact, and send spot reports and and SITREPS (Situation Reports) via land line (Phone) and courier (US Postal service).
Appendix A, Execution matrix:
Appendix B, Mail drop schedule
Appendix C, Planed Packing lists: Starting Packing List
Appendix D, Cost estimate
Appendix E, Hostel List
Appendix F, Menu